This horse is no blanket-fitting expert. One look at his shag reveals his love of cold weather and his longing for snowdrifts and snow angels.
Oh, wait. That's me. (Not the shag part, the cold weather/snow angel thing.)
Well, I'm not a blanket-fitting expert either. But really, I don't know any expert blanket-fitters. If I did, I would submit, for his/her approval, this (hairy) (whiskery) (maniac) (complex) (spoiled) horse.
Unlike my first horse, Sam likes wearing his blankets and sheets. But that doesn't mean he treats them with respect. On the contrary, he's very, very hard on them and seems on a never-ending quest to test their endurance. It's these kinds of dichotomies that make him complicated. They also make him expensive.
How does he destroy sheets? Let me count the ways.
He gallops at top speed in close proximity to fences. *Rrrrrrrrrip*
He rolls wildly and catches feet under clasps. *Ping*
Tussling with friends across the fence, he actually encourages them to tug and pull on his clothes. *Schuck*
Despite my best efforts to patch Sam's clothes with a sewing machine, and my willingness to let him wander around in rags, his blatant disregard for clothing has led me to purchase a number of sheets. So maybe I'm an amateur blanket-selector.
These are the features I believe are most important for a good horse sheet. They make for a good sheet for my leetle friend, and I'm sure they will for yours, too.
After properly measuring him from chest to tail, I know that he wears an 84. This is larger than most horses, and an 80 is often a good middle-of-the-road size. Still, though, it's always best to measure your horse, and it never hurts to ask a salesperson if a sheet runs large or small.
The sheet below by Riders International has been my perennial favorite, and although I can't find the exact same sheet online right now, it's pretty close to this one. At about $90, it's reasonably priced and readily available online. No, I haven't been compensated for this post. I just like this sheet.
The fit on Sam, below, is pretty decent. You can see that it sits up in front of his shoulders, and the opening for his neck is appropriately sized- meaning it's not pulling at his neck or slipping behind the point of his shoulder.
The sheet settles well over his body with some room to spare, and you can just barely see his (beer) belly poking out below. Behind, the tail flap gives extra coverage and the edges of the sheet nicely cover his hip.
I will fault the fit of this sheet for pulling at the point of his shoulders near his chest. I've learned, however, that because of the way he's built, all sheets fit him that way. To keep his clothes from rubbing his hair off, I use a shoulder guard.
Why has this sheet earned my unending love? First of all, it's made of 600+ denier ripstop nylon. Although we all love Egyptian cotton bedsheets, when it comes to horse sheets, nylon is a far better choice. Cotton is cold when wet, dries slowly, mildews, rips and frays. Nylon dries quickly, resists mildew, is lightweight, and comes in wonderful high-tech variations like my beloved ripstop.
Now, about denier. Denier refers to how fine and tightly woven a fabric is. The higher the denier count, the more durable it is. See those little pricked holes below? On another sheet those would be full-fledged rips. Foiled again, Sam.
Although it's breathable, this sheet is also backed with a weatherproofing layer, which makes it extra water-resistant. This is less important if your horse has limited turnout or constant care. And by "constant" I mean "a butler at his beck and call to ensure he never gets caught by a sudden rainstorm."
It's also machine washable, and does fit well in a traditional washing machine. I run it through at least twice, then hang it on the fence to dry in the sun. (Cabbage and I have an old washing machine in our barn dedicated to horse laundry. On the rare occasion I do opt to throw some wraps or a saddle pad in the machine in the house, I always wipe it out afterwards with a paper towel, then follow with a load of jeans. To be honest, I'm not sure horse laundry is any dirtier than our jeans, anyway. Urgh.)
Lightweight? Check. Perfect for wearing alone or under a blanket.
Ripstop? Check. Have mercy, Sam.
Rain resistant? Check. I don't worry if he gets rained on. Boyfriend will stay pretty dry.
Let's zoom in on additional features. I like a sheet that opens across the chest, because it gives options and adjustability. This one is great because it first velcros to itself, then has a choice of two clips, and further adjusts with buckles. If you can't get this to fit, your horse is built weird. Like mine.
Shoulder gussets (the extra triangular pleat of fabric shown below) are good because they allow freedom of movement. This is particularly important if your horse likes to gallop around like an idiot. Ahem.
Below his belly are two straps which are meant to cross underneath and hold it securely in place. Good stuff. Some sheets come with just one strap that goes straight across behind the front legs, and that works... But two are better than one.
It's ok to post pictures of my horse's hiney, right? I'm a little fuzzy on just how perverted some people can be.
Moving right along... Underneath that awesome tail flap are two elastic leg straps. They are hold the sheet close to each leg and keep the back half of the sheet from sliding and shifting around his (we'll call it) waist. I've always preferred to cross the leg straps, so the left leg strap crosses to the back of the right leg, and vice versa. The X makes sure they hold the sheet not only to each leg, but also to the other side. Ta. Da.
And there you have a quick rundown of features worth paying for in a good horse sheet. Sam tested and approved.